Sarah Chien, dance, Andy Ribner, Triskelion
My choreographic work is in constant dialogue with the generative practices (teaching, producing, training) that make up my artistic identity. They all support my efforts to create performances that use clear movement choices to share something both honest and personal
Framed by simple dramaturgical choices, I design improvisation structures that create a space for endless exploration and active physical problem-solving. From my feet to my eyes, I am in constant partnership with the space in which I perform, seeking to both become a part of, and transform it as I go. 

Nothing But Us
[2021, current project in research phase]

Nothing But Us is a future evening length work exploring intimacy with everyday companions. It combines two threads of research: one from my budding relationship with plants/farming/food, and another focused on "duets" with objects.

 

I'm making a dance with what I have: my heritage, household objects, and the weeds that grow in our city. I'm interested in intimacies with everyday things and what we can learn from them. Using dance, storytelling and installation, I want to tell a story of resilience through plants, self-reliance through electrical equipment, mutuality through speakers. 

Currently looking for development residencies.

Excerpts of two scenes were performed as a work-in-progress: Center for Performance Research (Nov 2021)

 

therside collective
[international improvisation collective]

VISIT COLLECTIVE WEBSITE

We are an international, self-determined, improvisation collective. We create improvised dance + music performances using our bodies, our instruments, our voices and our (poetic) imagination. We are constantly researching new ways to maintain collaboration across physical distance, to instantly compose and to build our dreams with the resources we have. In our current form, we are 5 dancers and 3 musicians from Greece, Poland, USA, Switzerland, Italy and Aruba/Netherlands. The cornerstone of our process is an annual residency tour hosted by one of our members in their home country.

Currently scheduling residencies. performances, and workshops internationally.
Upcoming: Poland (2022), USA (2023)

 

Residency Locations: Bratislava, Slovakia (2018), Thessalonki, Greece (2019), Zoom/Virtual (2020), Ferrara, Italy (2021),

Core Members: Sarah Chien (USA), Vicky Angelidou (GR), Francesca Caselli (IT), Sarah Chien (USA), Susanna Grob (CH), Agata Gregorkiewitz (PL)

 

A Year Without Studios
[2021, film]

Commissioned by DanceNow, this film showcases one dancer’s persistent solo art-making practice throughout the pandemic. Telling a story of embodied grief, frustration, and resistance, the film unearths gems from my prolific archive of a year of performing solo improvisation for my iPhone. 

I wanted to address the feeling of grief artists confront even as we keep creating. It’s not the same, but we keep making. What have you gone without this year? And how have you kept going in ways that have gone unseen? 

Available for film festivals.

Created and Performed by: Sarah Chien

Edited by: Cinthia Chen
Score and Sound by: Kirin McElwain

Miss You
[2021, site-specific]

In 2021 I completed a rural residency at The Sable Project in Stockbridge, VT. Miss You was created as a site-specific performance and installation responding to the experience of being at an off-grid residency, after the first year of the pandemic.

 

I collaborated with sound designer M. Florian Staab, and worked with letters sent to me from friends and family during my time at Sable. 
 

I'm interested in continuing research into the elements explored in this piece:  sound excerpts, speakers and paper installations. 

Performer: Sarah Chien

Sound Designer: M. Florian Staab 

Performed at: The Sable Project

 
 

This Time
[2020]

This Time is a solo score for zoom created during the pandemic. The performer is placed in control of all the cinematic, design and communication elements of the live streaming environment including music, voice, camera angles. She can make use of a toolbox including any objects in the space, clip lights, and a notebook and/or whiteboard. The frustrations of art-making and connecting in this medium are welcomed as fodder for the composition.

5-10 min solo suitable for small or large spaces, available for virtual curation

Performer: Sarah Chien

Performed at: Arts On Site, The New Shul's Kumah Festival
Music contributions: Yaz Lancaster, Mirko Lancerotto

 

Songs Stuck In My Body 
[one-woman show, 2019]

VISIT SHOW SITE

“Songs Stuck in My Body” is a dance-theater solo that takes the audience on a romp through the residue of childhood. The autobiographical piece unfolds through a series of scenes, each pairing an improvisation task with nostalgic artifacts from girl scout songs to beanie babies. At once comedic and deeply personal, the piece asks “What do we do with memories that no longer fit?”

Available for touring as a 45-min show
 

Performer: Sarah Chien

Director/Collaborator: Lauren Hlubny 

Visit show site for detailed performance history.

 

Nesting in the minefield (working title)
[work in progress, 2020]

In this time of apocalypse, we are interested in the radical elevation of joy and playful curiosity as a form of future-making. We embrace the adventurous spirit and inherent risk-taking of improvisation, the discipline that brought us together.  

We install percussion throughout the space, creating a unique sounding architecture for us to inhabit. The instruments we select are all sturdy metal objects- both classical and found- which allow Chien the freedom to both manipulate them as set pieces and the ability relate to them as dance partners.

Looking for residencies to support development of the work. 

 

Performers: Sarah Chien, Caitlin Cawley

Performed at: Chez Bushwick's RECESS (2020), Spectrum NYC (2019), ¡Spontaneous Combustion! (2019)

 

rollercoaster
[2019]

In solo practice you are just meeting/confronting/fighting yourself again and again. Stepping into the studio is my ring. This piece is about fighting with all the internal and external forces that pull on my emotions on a daily basis: self-doubt, social pressures of different identities (#mixedrace), and my wants/worries/fears.
 

5 min solo suitable for small or large spaces, available for touring.

Performer: Sarah Chien

Director/Collaborator: Lauren Hlubny

Performed at: Joe's Pub (NYC) as part of DanceNow 2019; Performance Garage, Philadelphia (work-in-progress)

 

Trading Stillness 
[2019]

Performers: Sarah Chien, Kirin McElwain

Performed at: Riverside Park (DanceSafari), Audubon House at Governors Island, Triskelion Arts

"Trading Stillness" is a framework for constantly changing our roles in performance. Sound is created from movement, so  listening, waiting, letting the other speak are the same choice in both mediums. Every element-- from dancer to bow hairs to the space itself-- is invited to speak and be still, to propose, to listen, to move and to create sound. Rejecting the structure of accompaniment in favor of a meeting of equals, we construct a language of both sound and gesture.

Performers: Sarah Chien, Emily Faulkner

Performed at: University Settlement as part of Perfomance Mix Festival 32 (2018)

Solo for Two
[2018]

In Solo for Two, Sarah Chien and Emily Faulkner came together to create the ideal conditions for solo improvisation. Each performer was able to ask for what they need in the moment, drawing from an onstage toolbox of sound, music and time controlled by their partner. 

The work examined how we can actively support each other even while we perform what makes us most unique. It celebrates the soloist, and the craft of composing improvisational dance.

 
 

Tethered, Part 1
[2017]

Supported solo exploring how structural limitations can at once liberate us and constrict us. Sometimes we shed structures in hopes of finding freedom, only to realize that they were holding us up.

This was the first product of my research into the “supported solo" concept. I was researching ways that our bodies can literally support each other even while we perform what makes us most unique. How can collaboration support individuality? 

Performers: Sarah Chien, Jhor van der Horst

Research Collaborator: Ethan Meigs

Performed at: The Brick Theater (July 2017)

 

Hover
[2016]

Sarah's first solo work, this improvised solo was a live journey, a physical search.

 

What is revealed in the space between two opposite forces?

Performer: Sarah Chien

Performed at: 

Actors Fund Theatre, Brooklyn (June 2016)  

Lalita Devi, Spain (September 2016) 

Arts on Site, New York City (November 2016)